FZ200 airshow #7: Canon Teleconverter and final settings

Started Jul 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
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FZ200 airshow #7: Canon Teleconverter and final settings
Jul 1, 2013

Yesterday I made another trip to my local Airshow Photography Test Facility (the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden). Weather was about the best we’ve had all season, bright and warm with scattered or high-altitude white cloud. A bit windy though – enough to blow your camera off-target at times… but it could have been worse if I wasn’t using a little FZ200 (the big DSLR lenses can catch the wind like sails!). It also meant the older planes couldn’t fly, but it was a cracking good show regardless – and it would have been swelteringly hot without the cooling breeze.

The Canon TC-DC58A teleconverter

I used the same settings as last time, but this time I fitted my Canon TC-DC58A 1.5x teleconverter (instead of the Panasonic 1.7x TC). Results were surprising, to me at least. I seemed to do just as well as last time with my panning... and yet the image quality was generally not as good.

There was more noise, and some fuzziness that did NOT appear to be from focus or panning (motion-blur) issues. There was occasionally also some chromatic abberation... and some weird distortion/artifacts in the parts of the background that were behind motion-blurred propellers... I've never seen anything like that before (looked like the kind of patterns you get when you "clone" overlapping areas in photo editing software).

This surprised me greatly. And it's a shame - I like the Canon TC because it has much more wide angle available before vignetting (about 150mm-900mm, where the Panasonic is roughly 500mm-1020mm). But either it's just not as good, or doesn't play as nicely with the FZ200 and my current settings, or there's something weird about the ND4 filter I use with it (same brand and type that I use with the Panasonic TC - just 58mm instead of 55mm).

Whatever. Given these latest results... I think I'll be using the Panasonic TC in future. It's lighter and has a little more "reach" too.

Photos from yesterday:

You can see some of my (PP'ed) photos from yesterday >> HERE <<

I probably could have done better with the jets, but I got my ND4 filter jammed on the 55-58mm step-up ring that I use with the Canon teleconverter :-/ I just had to leave it on and use slower shutter speeds than I would have liked >:-(

Final settings, no more "FZ200 airshow" threads from me

I'm convinced I now have the camera settings for airshows, that make the most of FZ200's capabilities - within my particular style of shooting, and personal limitations. These are all detailed once more below, along with some of my theories associated with them. Consequently, this is probably my last "FZ200 airshow" thread on these forums - I'm not planning on any more experiments, time to just kick back, use what I've got, and enjoy the shows. Of course I will continue to post my photos ongoing, in the airshows.co.uk forums if anyone’s interested.

The settings:

a) Turn Stabilizer OFF
It is my belief that the I.S. doesn't cope with panning, and makes things worse not better.

b) Don't use a burst mode that autofocuses between each shot
It will use "predictive" focussing, and again - it is my belief that this doesn't cope with panning.

c) Use AFS (single) autofocus not AFC or AFF
AFC/AFF uses "predictive" focussing too.

d) Use short 12fps bursts
Since I am not using continuous/tracking focus, I need to shoot as soon as I achieve focus, and keep the bursts short - otherwise the plane will escape the available depth of field. I think 12fps works best for this.

e) Keep an eye on the aperture you get, for your chosen shutter speed
Don't let it reach f2.8, for the technique I am using, I want smaller apertures for a larger depth-of-field. NB. I have heard that f4 is the "sweet spot" for the FZ200 lens.

f) Shoot JPG-only
Using RAW will slow down your bursts, and can lead to lengthy buffer-clearing delays during which you cannot shoot.

My custom "C1" saved setup:

  • "Standard" photo style Co +1, Sh -1, Sa +1, NR -2 (thanks Mikedigi!)
  • JPG only
  • ISO AUTO, ISO Limit Set 400, Extended ISO OFF
  • Stabilizer OFF
  • AFS
  • 12fps burst mode
  • 23-area focus
  • "Multiple" metering mode
  • Quick AF ON
  • i.Resolution OFF
  • i.Dynamic OFF
  • Digital Zoom OFF
  • Autoreview OFF
  • I adjust shutter speed and exposure compensation as I go

I use a red dot sight (Photosolve Xtend-a-sight mounting), which lets me instantly get a plane into the viewfinder, as quick and easy as pointing your finger. It also lets me watch the show with both eyes and my normal field of view, while still taking photos. I favour RDS with a large “open” mirror, dot-in-circle reticule available, and variable reticule brightness (that goes to “very high”).

It’s “unconventional”, but I hold the camera out in front of me, instead of sticking it to my face and using the viewfinder. I use the RDS as my primary viewfinder, and just glance down at the rear screen to check zoom/focus/framing. I pull the camera strap taut against the back of my neck to add stability. This works well for me, I find panning easier with a full field of view, and simply keeping the RDS “spot” on a chosen part of a plane.

(With “conventional” technique, you use the camera viewfinder and lock your arms, head, neck, torso and camera together as a single unit… and pan by turning this unit from the waist. I find it helpful taking my head/neck out of that equation).

I also think the full field of view makes it easier to predict when planes are going to cross-over, pass some interesting scenery, etc.

As shown in my previous thread, I use some kind of handle or grip for my left hand at airshows, whether I’m using a teleconverter or not. This gives additional stability and comfort.

That's it! I hope some of this is useful to others. But remember, there's no guarantee any of this will work for other people! It’s just what works for me!

Here’s an airshow photography tip that does apply to everybody, no matter what their equipment or technique: Resist the urge to review your photos! (except to occasionally check your settings, exposure compensation etc).

Ie. Don’t be one of those people that only looks at the planes when they’re close enough to shoot, and spends the rest of the time looking down at their camera! ENJOY THE SHOWwhen you’re not shooting!

I’ll be at Waddington next Sunday, hoping for good weather again... that’s an airshow with lots of modern “heavy metal” (ie. fast jets!). Wheeeeeeee!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
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